In To the Momma Rolling Her Eyes at My Students , from http://petalsofjoy.org/ by Petals of Joy, the author talks about her teenage students entering a fast food restaurant and a mother with young children rolled her eyes and acted quite annoyed.
I have to confess that middle school/junior high school aged students are not my favorite students. Those raging hormones can get on my nerves too.
But over the past year, I’ve taken several trips to Disney World because my husband thinks he is a child and bought us an annual pass. (Even though we live 8 hours away!).
Many times I’ve gotten in lines with teens and I’m pleasantly surprised how well behaved they are. Since this has occurred on several occasions, they are not the same group of teens. Many make sure they are not cutting in line and don’t act silly.
I’ve been lucky enough to engage in conversations with them while in line and I’ve almost been disappointed when it was time to get on a ride. I love hearing about their opinions of the park from their point of view. Many of them are funny and entertaining which helps when you are standing in a long line. Not once have I regretted being in line with the teens.
Lately, I realize that I’m even starting to enjoy being around these teens. They are full of life and enthusiasm which is quite contagious when you are near them. If you overhear some of their conversations, you can’t help but be amused. If they catch you laughing with them, many times they will include you in their conversation and seem to enjoy the “old person’s” point of view!
Sometimes when students are acting a little rowdy and I engage them in conversation, it personalizes our interaction and calms them down. Once they realize that someone notices them and their behavior, many times, they try to act responsible which I really appreciate.
If we want teens to know how to act out in public, society has a responsibility to show them how to act. We need to treat them with respect so they know how to treat others with respect. By engaging them in civil conversations, we are showing them how to have conversations with people of all ages.
I also think it is important to let them know that we enjoyed having this contact and conversations with them. It builds their self confidence and encourages them to act in appropriate behavior. The more successful they are at this, the more they will do this.
Rather than being annoyed or showing body language that makes them feel unwelcome, it would have been better to ask them where they were from and what activity they were involved in. It might be interesting to find out and teach the smaller children how to interact.
Do you interact with teens you see in public places? How do you react? Please share.